Colonnade’s Chief Operating Officer on excellence, over-sharing, and building the Colonnade Family
When Robyn Felton got the phone call informing her that she’d been selected as on of the Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40, she thought she was being pranked. “I couldn’t do this job or be successful without the people around me. When people say ‘Congrats!’ I say, ‘I’m surrounded by good people who have made me look really good for a really long time.’ Everybody else has done the legwork. I just happen to be carrying the baton right now.”
If that quote doesn’t make it abundantly clear, Robyn Felton, COO of Colonnade Group, may, in fact, be the most humble person you’ve ever met.
“I’m just not focused on accolades. Who has time for that? There’s work to do!” she says. It’s that drive to be excellent every day, in everything she does, which sets her apart. “I’ve never been particularly ambitious. I don’t exactly have a five-year plan, and I never set my sights on becoming COO. But I believe in being excellent in everything you do. Being faithful in the little things, over time, brings opportunity—not because you were trying for opportunity, but because people know they can trust you.”
A graduate of Samford University, Felton held a post-graduate internship at the Sugar Bowl in 2001 before joining Colonnade Group as Bulldog Suites Director at Mississippi State. She then moved to the home office in Birmingham to oversee the growth of Colonnade’s Elev8 premium seating management business before being named COO.
As Colonnade Group expands its client roster across the country, growing its team and its capabilities, Robyn’s hope is to build strong networks of communication and trust.
Robyn’s default mode of putting others’ needs first may be the secret to her success. “I’m a serial over-sharer. If I give you too much information, you can delete the email. I don’t want to risk anyone not having what they need to do the best job they can. Whether people need the information or not, they have it. There’s just no room for communication breakdowns when you’re not in the same space.”
That over-sharing has a beneficial side-effect in that it creates a sense of community and belonging at Colonnade Group even when team members are hundreds, even thousands, of miles away from one another.
“As we grow, we have to make sure everyone feels part of the team even when they’re operating remotely in Texas or Virginia. That’s something I learned as Director of Elev8, and its something I hope to expand in my role as COO. Virtual communication can feel cold and transactional, and that’s not Colonnade. We are a relationship company. My number-one goal is to make sure everyone knows they’re part of this team. That starts with communication.”
With 17 years of experience at Colonnade Group, Robyn speaks fondly of her co-workers as friends and family—a network of support and wisdom that are essential to her success. “When you look at the other people in the 40 Under 40 list, many of them are from big firms and corporations, which is wonderful. I’m so lucky to work at a place that feels like a family, where I know everyone I work with, and we grow and get better together.”